Friday, July 2, 2010


Steep slopes are areas of land that rise greater than 20%. If you have a steep slope and are looking to make it stable then the best way to do so is with plants. Even if it is a slight slope in your front yard or something bigger in the back adding plants is a great way to maximize space and get the greatest bang for your buck.

Before you begin planting on that slope you should look at and consider what the condition of the slope area is like. Are there cracks that need to be filled or do you notice any potential erosion problems. If such problems exist then you need to fill the crack with top soil. You should also try raking and removing any debris and rocks. If there are rocks in the soil then it will make for a difficult planting process as it will be hard to dig. Remember that slopes like other planting beds have areas that get more sun or shade so researching the plant you wish to use and understanding it's sun/shade tolerance is always a great ides.

Below is a list of plants suitable for use on sloped areas...

California native plants for slopes...
  • Aesculus californica
  • Amorpha fruticosa
  • Artemisia californica
  • Artiplex lentii spp. brewerii
  • Baccharis pilularis (right picture)
  • Ceanothus spp.
  • Cleome isomeris
  • Encelia californica
  • Encelia farinosa
  • Fremontia species & hybrids
  • Garrya elliptica
  • Heteromeles arbutifolia
  • Mahonia nevinii
  • Parkinsonia aculeata
  • Pinus coulteri
  • Pinus sabiniana
  • Prunus ilicifolia spp. ilicifolia
  • Prunus ilicifolia spp. lyonii (middle picture)
  • Quercus dumosa
  • Rhamnus spp.
  • Rhus spp.
  • Ribes malvaceum
  • Romneya coulteri
  • Salvia clevelandii
  • Salvia mellifera 'Tera Seca'
  • Shepherdia argentea
  • Senecio douglasii
  • Solanum xantii
  • Yucca spp.
California friendly plants for slopes...
  • Convallaria majalis
  • Cotoneaster horizontalis
  • Erigeron glaucus
  • Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus'
  • Festuca spp. (varies species)
  • Geranium sanguineum
  • Hedera helilx
  • Lonicera japonica
  • Lavandula stoechas
  • Vinca minor (right picture)
Please note there are much more plants that may fall into either native or friendly category but the list given is a simplified version. As with any plant you should do your homework etc.

For more info on hillside planting then click here.


ebw-pete said...

thanks for the article. there are certain plants which colonize very poor soils like you find on steep slopes. these are often nitrogen fixators like lupines, lotus species, and ceanothus species. these along w/ native bunchgrasses are excellent for establishing first on very steep slopes. some of the plants you mention in the 'california friendly' section are not friendly at ALL! in fact, almost all the species you mention are invasive and thereby destructive to the native species.

creations landscape designs said...


I think that all non natives are technically invasive. Thanks for your comment.

CoirGreen said...

thanks for the great article. Coir is also widely used to get the extra mechanical strength for slope stabilization.

Arvind said...


I am glad you are promoting natives and Ca friendly non-natives. Some non-natives are invasive and do great harm -- vinca, header, cotoneaster. Pls check your recommendations against the site.